Darrel Hughes, an executive director of University Health pharmacy services, explains the difference between brand name drugs and generic over the counter drugs and when to choose which to spend your money on.
“Both brand and generic medications are held to the same standards for efficacy, safety and quality,” Hughes said. “A branded product and company have costs associated with research, development and marketing that a generic manufacturer doesn’t have.”
Generic Drug Requirements
- The active ingredient is the same as the brand name
- The generic has the same dosage, strength and route of administration
- It is manufactured under the same strict standards
- The label is the same as the brand name medicine’s label
- The generic is the bioequivalent to the brand name drug
You should note the inactive ingredients before you switch to any generic because of the chance of allergic reactions.
“It’s good to consult with your health care provider or pharmacist to make sure that the generic product you’re switching to doesn’t have that ingredient in it,” Hughes said.
But there are medications where you should stick with the brand name. One example is Synthroid, a medication for hypothyroidism. The American Thyroid Association warns patients not to switch to the generic because the margin for variation with this treatment is very small.
“Those are medications where the effective dose is very near the toxic dose,” Hughes said. “So those are situations where you’d want to work with your health care provider and pharmacist to make sure that you’re making a transition from branded to generic but it’s being monitored.”
University Health Pharmacy
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